Dave’s Movie Review: Olympus Has Fallen

Letter Grade:

The Good:

Exciting (but often unrealistic) and fairly well made action sequences
Butler plays a good action star
Morgan Freeman!

The Bad:

Poor acting performances by a few otherwise reliable actors
Glaringly unrealistic premise
Lazy/poor script writting

Cast & Crew:

Director: Antoine Fuqua
Writers: Creighton Rothnberger, Katrin Benedikt
Stars: Gerald Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, Melissa Leo

Rated R for strong violence and language throughout

Ok, so here’s the deal. This is my first official review I’ve written for Cinedraft (or any site for that matter). I’m going to level with you because I want us to get off on the right foot (people keep telling me that honesty is important…). I was all ready to write a review for this movie that praised the “disaster” genre (I’m counting terrorist attack as a “disaster” for the sake of argument) and talked about how awesome it was despite being a kind of stupid action movie…I may have even gotten a head start on writing my review before seeing the movie…which was probably stupid… and maybe unethical or something… I don’t know, I’m not a journalist… what I do know is after watching Olympus Has Fallen, I couldn’t delete my optimistically positive (and
completely uneducated) “review” fast enough. I really wanted to love this movie, and as you are probably picking up on by now (through your masterful skills of mental deduction, or the big ol’ not so positive letter grade at the very top of this review), I did not love it.

Antoine Fuqua’s (Tears of the Sun, The Shooter, Training Day, Coolio’s Gangsta’s Paradise video) most recent movie is an action movie through and through. The White House (Code Named “Olympus”) and the President (Aaron Eckhart) are attacked and captured by Korean (I think North Korean, but to be honest it wasn’t super clear and I may just be making that assumption because those crazy North Koreans have been threatening to kill the planet again.), black hood-wearing, super-scary and evil terrorists (which I suppose is a nice break from all the Middle Eastern terrorists we’ve been subjected to recently). Luckily for America, Secret Service agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler), who just so happens to have something to prove after failing to protect the first family months earlier, manages to fight his way through the seemingly impenetrable wall of bad guys and machine gun fire to make his way into the White House and is now the last hope for rescuing the kidnapped President and saving the world from certain disaster.

There are a few slightly redeeming qualities in this film. This movie is rated “R” for a reason. It’s graphically violent (to a comical fault at some points…or maybe there is just something wrong with me…) and I can respect that a little bit. I’m generally not a fan of cutting a movie to be less violent just to appeal to a wider audience. This movie has a violent premise and for the most part is appropriately violent. In terms of production value, the CGI was seemingly done fairly well, the cinematography was adequate but nothing really special or unique. Butler, like in 300, shows that he can support an action movie in the same vein as Bruce Willis. His acting wasn’t amazing, but it wasn’t horrible and he seems to be really good at being punched through walls, falling through ceilings, and stabbing people in the head with a big knife. I totally believed him as an action hero. And of course, Morgan Freeman is in the movie  and he’s amazing…always…I would gladly pay to listen to him read the phone book.

Badass head stabbings and Morgan Freeman’s sage and soothing presence aside, there was far more to dislike than like about this film. I don’t want to be too harsh here considering this film was never meant to be Oscar material. It’s meant to be a good, fun, dumb action movie, which would be totally fine except they kind of failed at that too. I think first and foremost in my list of complaints may be the work of first time writers (first time script writers that is, I assume they knew how to “write” in general before working on the script for this movie…maybe…) Creighton Rothenberger and Katrin Benedikt. The overall premise of the movie seemed unbelievable (I feel like they would have shot that plane down somewhere over the Chesapeake Bay and the Secret Service/Military would have been better prepared to fight off the terrorists), the dialogue was rough and clichéd and perhaps most annoyingly the general plot seemed to be pretty directly stolen from some much better action movies.

In addition to the script needing a good once over, the score seemed uneven at best. At points soaring, well timed, and effective and at others heavy handed, unnecessarily dramatic and confusing. OMG! The bad guy took off his glasses! (That’s right, I just typed “OMG”. Stop judging me. It’s what all the kids are saying and I’m way to lazy to type out “Oh My God”).

Generally reliable actors Aaron Eckhart and Melissa Leo turned in not so good, one-note performances in their roles as angry and adamantly patriotic hostages. As can be seen in Rabbit Hole and Conversations with Other Women(Eckhart) and The Fighter and Frozen River (Leo) they are both good actors… just not in this movie..and knowing they can do better makes their performances even worse.

I give this movie a solid “D,” which isn’t always a horrible thing. It’s the type of movie that’s perfectly enjoyable if you are sitting around with friends and only half paying attention to it. Watch it if you’ve got the time, or better yet, have a Die Hard/The Rock/Air Force One marathon. They are all much better versions of what “Olympus Has Fallen” is trying to be.


Dave Bernard (5 Posts)

More About Me